Soups & Stories


We met at dark. First we showed the art we had found. Mara had picked up seashells on a Florida beach and brought them back for us. She also found a "mermaid's purse" and brought it back for me. It's the black piece in the photo. A mermaid's purse! Who would have thought? Gave me all kinds of ideas!

I showed everyone the mermaid made from antler bone that hangs from a string around my neck; I told the story of my friend Cate walking on her land when Old Buck came by, nodded to her, and dropped his antlers as a gift for her. She picked them up and saw a mermaid in the bone; she found an artist who could make the mermaid more visible. When he was finished, she sent the mermaid to me. Everyone at the Old Mermaids School was in awe, as I am every time I look down at it or cradle it in my hand. (More on this in another post.)

Together we ate black bean storytelling soup.

Mario lit the storytelling candle. Then we meditated on Earth. Each of us told stories of our memories of earth. We talked of landslides we had known and loved; we spoke of the aroma of earth; we remembered putting our fingers in the dirt and how wonderful that felt.

Then one by one, we each told a fairy tale, folktale, or legend. Mario told the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. We all chimed in when he said, ""Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he alive or be he dead. I'll grind his bones to make my bread." (Say this out loud; it's got quite the rhythm.)

I told the story of Stone Soup, and I told the abbreviated Old Mermaids version of Stone Soup, Sister Ruby Rosarita Mermaid and the Storytelling Soup. I remembered this story from when I was a child and saw and heard it on Romper Room. Sometimes I think my sense of community evolved from that story. I loved how clever the travellers were, how they got the villagers to come out and drop their vegetables and meat into the "stone soup," how in the end the villagers and travellers ate the soup together, and the villagers welcomed the travellers to their village.

Mara told the story of three sons and their father. The father said whoever could fill the barn the fullest would inherit his lands and money. Two of the sons were certain one of them would win because they were so much smarter than the third son. The oldest son filled the barn with animals and such; the second son filled the barn with straw. When it was the third son's turn, the father walked into the barn and the flame of a single candle filled the barn with light. (This is an often told European tales; in many versions, the third child is a girl.) The third son inherited.

It was a wonderful evening as usual.

By the way, the storytelling soup was one of the best we've ever had at The Old Mermaids School of Telling Tales & Finding Art. I got the recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Self-Healing Cookbook by Kristina Turner. I tweaked it a bit, as usual, and you could, too. It's important to soak the beans overnight, of course, but if you forget, you can boil them in water for ten minutes with the lid on and then let them sit for two hours (lid on). Then drain and follow the recipe. Since I was making the soup for a group, I doubled the recipe. There were five of us, and we ate it all up.

2 c. black beans
8 c. water
a strip or two of kombu seaweed
2 to 4 c. chopped cauliflower
2 carrots, diced
2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp. cumin

(Kristina suggests 4-6 tsp. tamari; I let people put in their own salt/soy sauce. She also suggests stirring in two green onions, sliced, after you the soup is basically finished cooking, but I'm always out of green onions, so I've never done that.)

Boil the black beans for two and a half hours. Add the cauliflower, ginger, carrots, and cumin and simmer for twenty minutes longer. You don't want the veggies soggy so don't cook it too much longer than that. Season it with the tamari and green onions at this point; then let it sit for a bit.

This soup is so good. The fresh ginger absolutely makes it, so don't skip that.

(If you use San-J Organic Tamari wheat-free soy sauce which uses only a bit of non-grain alcohol, this dish is gluten-free, along with being vegan, dairy-free, corn-free, and nightshade-free.)


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